Years ago, I took one of my horses, Lucy, to her first Advanced at Morven Park Horse Trials in Virginia. I vividly remember overhearing someone talk about someone else as the ultimate cross country rider. It was an Olympic rider who I looked up to. “He never makes it look hard, he is so smooth and effortless and never seems to struggle”. I wanted to emulate that rider so badly. In my head, I equated smooth and effortless as not setting up for a jump, and just letting the jump come to me.
At Morven they had a very wide, open oxer at the top of the hill, and it was as wide and gaping as an Advanced oxer can be. It was there that I thought I would let the jump come to me, and emulate my idol.
And come that jump did… in an ugly way. We made it over, but it was not a pretty example of how to jump a jump. I knew it was ugly, but when I crossed the finish line it was already out of my head because I was so thrilled with Lucy’s performance at her first Advanced run, and so I forgot about it.
I was at the competitor’s party that night, and I will never forget Karen O’Connor coming up to me and ripping me a new crack up my backside. She had seen my ride to the oxer and she was horrified by it. She didn’t care who was listening or what they thought of the conversation, she only cared that I heard her loud and clear. It was a very humiliating moment to be called out by one of the best riders in the world that I did a shit poor job of piloting my horse and I put my mare’s safety in jeopardy.
I have NEVER made that mistake again on any horse.
I did not personally attack any riders in my blog, I wrote it because it is extremely personal to me. I know what it is like to make mistakes and I also know that Karen was absolutely right and her ass-ripping made me a better rider in a mere 3 minutes. Which is shorter than any riding lesson that I have ever taken.
I don’t want to chastise anyone, but I do want the riders to be safe. If I have insulted anyone, I apologize, that was not my intent. My intent is that all riders, myself included, need to take responsibility for their actions, whether written or ridden.